Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Criminal Law and COVID-19

Intersections between criminal and public health law do exist. In Florida, section 381.00315, relating to public health advisories; public health emergencies; isolation and quarantines, creates a misdemeanor for violating “any rule adopted” pursuant to the section. Of course, this includes “any isolation or quarantine, or any requirement adopted … pursuant to a declared public health emergency”.

A person can be arrested for this criminal violation, even though it is a misdemeanor. Any criminal case exposes a Defendant to incarceration. There have been a lot of rumors spread during the pandemic relating to whether and the extent to which local jurisdictions are arresting people. To our knowledge, no sheriff in North Florida has completely ceased making arrests.

Within the Fifth Judicial Circuit, any person arrested for violating a section 381.00315 Quarantine Order, “who is reasonably believed to be infected with the coronavirus or who is reasonably believed to have been exposed … is presumed to involve a danger to the public health. Due to the danger to the public health for such a violation, the bond shall initially be set at no bond.” [internal quotations omitted]. Quoting a case from the Florida Supreme Court in 1943, the administrative order reasons that “[t]o grant release on bail to persons isolated and detained on a quarantine order because they have a contagious disease which makes them dangerous to others, or to the public in general, would render quarantine laws and regulations nugatory and of no avail.”

The Fifth Circuit encompasses Marion, Citrus, Lake, Sumter and Hernando counties. Fortunately, the judge at First Appearance which takes place the day after an arrest, does have the discretion to modify the no bond status, if appropriate.

Any arrest is scary. Going through the system with and advisor can make it less scary. To hire a lawyer please click, call or fill out the form.

Ocala: (352) 694-4529

Gainesville: (352) 371-9141

Criminal Assault, the Threatened Use of Force and Warning Shots

In the realm of criminal cases one way a defense attorney can protect a client is to argue self-defense. Some years ago, there were reports of a ‘Warning Shot Bill’ that would allow Floridians to fire a warning shot. There is no law that specifically ‘allows a warning shot’. What in the stand your ground law caused the confusion that has me answering similar questions years later? 

Initially, the stand your ground law in Florida was silent as to whether a threat to use force was included. That meant that people, who chose to make a threat to use force and would have been immune from criminal prosecution had they actually used force, were instead being sent to prison. The law did not allow for immunity from prosecution for threats, just the use of force. For example, a person who killed an aggressor could be immune from a murder prosecution but in the same situation, having the restraint to not kill would send that same person to prison.

Thankfully, that omission was filled in 2014. The Legislature found that “persons have been criminally prosecuted … and have been sentenced to mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for threatening to use force in a manner and under circumstances that would have been justifiable under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, had force actually been used.” Therefore, the legislature, added the words “or threatening to use” and “or threatened use” to the provisions of law related to the justifiable use of force. They did not add the words “warning shot(s)”. In my opinion, the law will NEVER say that a person can fire a warning shot, but one day it may say that a person cannot.

The law in threatening or using deadly force is generally that a person is justified only if they reasonably believe that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. “Forcible felony” is defined as “treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

Whether a warning shot is justified is for the judge or jury to decide. Every case is different, and no lawyer can guarantee what a trial judge or jury will eventually decide. Criminal and civil cases involving the use or threatened use of deadly force require significant attention. To hire a lawyer, please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529